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Graham Awards


Industry figure urges Labour to do more to improve housing supply

The director of a property development firm says Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer must do more to boost housing supply as part of his campaign to change the way Britain is governed. 

At the end of last week Starmer called for extensive devolution of major decision-making powers to local councils at city and county level, and to directly elected mayors.

Starmer said the first King’s Speech under a Labour government would include a so-called Take Back Control bill - reclaiming the slogan of Brexit supporters - and this bill would devolve powers to local communities over employment support, transport, energy, climate change, culture, housing, culture and childcare provision.


This prompted some to fear that local Labour politicians who have been advocating rent controls may be in a position to enact them if the party is elected to government.

But Ben Woolman, director at property development firm Woolbro Group, says Starmer was not sufficiently ambitious in his programme. 

“For all his bluster about ‘sticking-plaster politics’, the Labour leader has yet to articulate a long-term solution to healing Britain’s crippling housing crisis.

“Our shortage of much-needed new homes is one of the greatest socioeconomic injustices of our time, yet neither the Conservatives nor Labour seem to be treating the crisis with the sense of urgency it requires.

“Doubling down on devolution is welcome, however, it must go hand-in-hand with reform of Britain’s antiquated planning system, which is undeniably the single-greatest barrier to Britain delivering the new homes it needs. Reinstating housing targets – with repercussions for missing them – and reversing Rishi Sunak’s disastrous amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework should also be prioritised.

“Local authority planning committees, which determine whether new housing developments go ahead or not, are already heavily politicised. Injecting even more politics into the equation will solve the housing crisis.

“Labour has a real chance to win the votes of those still trapped in the private rental market. However, to do so, Sir Kier must set out in detail how he would accomplish what the Tories could not – that being how he would transform Generation Rent into Generation Buy.”


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